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Interviews

Preserving the “Tomb of the Gladiator” in Rome: A Conversation with Dr. Darius Arya

In 2008, archae­ol­o­gists unearthed an extremely rare and impres­sive mar­ble mau­soleum, along a sec­tion of ancient road, in Rome, Italy. The largest and most ornate tomb was commissioned by a famous Roman general, Marcus Nonius Macrinus (fl. 161 CE), who had loyally served the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-180 CE). Macrinus’ life and exploits provided the model for Russell Crowe’s character, Maximus, in the award-winning film Gladiator (2000, Ridley Scott). Few archaeological discoveries have struck a such chord with a worldwide audience, and over time the international press came to refer to the site as the “Tomb of the Gladiator.”

Four years later, with no end in sight to the current financial crisis in Europe, the funds needed to support many heritage sites have evaporated, including those for the “Tomb of the Gladiator.” In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Dr. Darius Arya, CEO of the American Institute for Roman Culture, about the historical importance of the “Tomb of the Gladiator” and what is being done to prevent its reburial. Dr. Arya shares his opinions, opening up a dialogue on how best to conserve our ancient, cultural patrimony.

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Interviews

The Forgotten Ancient Queen: Salome Alexandra of Judea

Queen Salome Alexandra (r. 76-67 BCE) was arguably the most powerful and successful member of the Hasmonean dynasty, which governed an independent but strife-torn Judea. As the wife of King Alexander Jannaeus (r. 103-76 BCE) and then queen-regent in her own right, Salome Alexandra exercised wise judgment and remarkable personal conviction as a stateswoman. One of only two women ever to exercise sole rule over Judea, Salome Alexandra presided over a brief, but treasured era of peace. Not surprisingly, Salome Alexandra–commonly referred to as “Shelomtzion” or “Shlom Tzion” in Hebrew–is also the only woman explicitly mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls by name. Although few recognize her name, her importance to the subsequent development Judaism and Christianity is without question.

In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Dr. Kenneth Atkinson, Professor of History at the University of Northern Iowa, about this most distinct and enigmatic of ancient monarchs.

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Interviews

A Peek into the “World of the Celts”

During the Celtic Iron Age (c. 800-15 BCE), the Celts dominated large swaths of the European continent including what is present-day Germany, Switzerland, and France. The World of the Celts: Centres of Power – Treasures of Art (Die Welt der Kelten: Zentren der Macht – Kostbarkeiten der Kunst), displays this forgotten era of European history with astonishing works of art and rarely seen artifacts. These twin exhibitions–now on show at the Baden-Württemberg State Museum of Archaeology and the Württemberg State Museum in Stuttgart Germany–assemble the most impressive of Celtic objets d’art in the last thirty years.

In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Ms. Sarah Scheffler, a German archaeologist and expert on the Celts, who assisted in the collection of ancient artifacts for the Treasures of Art exhibition. Probing the nuances of Celtic art and style, Scheffler stresses the importance of exchange to the Celts’ art and of how the Celts interacted artistically with their Mediterranean and Germanic neighbors.